- Indiana waste collector Thomas Phelps, 52, was killed yesterday while making a trash pickup along U.S. 20 around 7: 30 a.m. Police say a semi side-swiped him.
- John Winters, 56, of Findlay, OH was driving the 2014 Freightliner semi-trailer truck. He was not injured in the crash, and alcohol was not believed to be a factor in the crash.
- The sheriff's department said that Phelps was airlifted to Parkview Regional Medical Center in critical condition with internal and external injuries, but later died during surgery.
Phelps' passing is a true reminder of why safety initiatives in the industry are so important. Shortly after the fatal accident, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the 2014 Workplace Injury and Illness Data, reporting that the injury rate for collection employees has raised to levels that have been seen since 2008.
Dangers on the roads associated with garbage trucks are not only affecting garbage collectors, but residents as well. Last week, a motorcyclist died after crashing into a garbage truck in West Knox County, TN. "I've lost count of how many [fatalities] there have been this month," said SWANA CEO David Biderman in an e-mail. "It's so sad."
SWANA and NWRA have both been working on initiatives to make drivers cautious around garbage trucks. The associations have explained that they wish for drivers to treat garbage trucks the same way they would an emergency vehicle or a school bus. Programs such as "Slow Down to Get Around" are helping the associations make this goal attainable.